Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA
MLS Regular Season
Wednesday, September 3; 7:30 pm PT; StubHub Center
TV/Radio: JOEtv (KZJO-Ch. 22/Cable 10); THIS-TV (KOMO2); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)
Sounders FC has a tremendous opportunity on Wednesday in a mid-week meeting with Chivas USA. Throughout the season, Seattle has been the first team to reach different point milestones, reaching 20, 30 and 40 points before any other team in MLS. Now on Wednesday, the Sounders have a chance to become the first team to reach 50 points this season with a victory and are approaching the game with that goal in mind.
“We want to be the first to get to 50 points. We’ve just got to go in with the right mentality and the right approach. We can’t let down,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said, noting that the LA Galaxy and D.C. United both sit just two points back in the Supporters’ Shield standings. “There are a lot of teams that are continuing to do well. We’ve just got to continue to keep the pressure on them, that if they want to catch us, they’ve got to keep winning because we’re going to keep winning.”
Seattle has won its last two matches and will look to continue a lengthy run of success against Chivas USA. Sounders FC has won six straight matches against the Goats and is unbeaten over the last 12 matches dating back to 2009.
Additionally, Chivas has struggled in recent weeks, going winless in its last seven matches and scoreless in its last six for a total shutout streak of 546 minutes. The club won’t be helped any on Wednesday by the absence of leading scorer Erick Torres, who has 14 goals but will be away on international duty after receiving his first call to the Mexican National Team.
Rather than pay attention to Chivas’ offensive woes, Seattle instead is focusing on keeping its own defensive principles intact that have helped goalkeeper Stefan Frei lead the league with eight shutouts.
“It can be that they’re very frustrated or very motivated,” Frei said. “I think we have to focus more on ourselves and make sure that we’re organized defensively, limit their chances and I’m sure our quality will come through up top.”
Seattle’s defense is starting to find its form, too. Frei registered three shutouts across all competitions in the month of August, including a 6-0 win over the Chicago Fire. The defense has managed to hold steady throughout the season, but earning a shutout against Colorado on Saturday gave it a boost in confidence.
“I think that’s something we take pride in as a defensive unit. In the beginning of the season we leaked some questionable goals but we were lucky to have the offensive power to compensate for it. Now if we can clean those mistakes up, which we’ve been doing, I think it takes some pressure off the guys up front,” Frei said. “They don’t have to score four goals a game. If they want they can keep doing that, though.”
Seattle will be playing without a key offensive component as well with Marco Pappa playing for Guatemala in the Copa Centroamericana. The midfielder will miss the next two matches, opening up opportunities for other players who have made significant contributions throughout the season. Chad Barrett has seven goals, Lamar Neagle has five goals and five assists and Kenny Cooper has added three goals and four assists, giving Schmid plenty of possibilities to complete his midfield against Chivas.
“We have different options. I think Lamar Neagle can play there. We’ve used Kenny Cooper in a wide position before. We’ve used Barrett wide. We’ll make a decision on that,” Schmid said. “It changes us a little bit because Pappa’s style of play is different than all of those guys. But that’s neither here nor there because there are enough players who have experience playing out there.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The match will be televised on JoeTV (KZJO-Ch. 22/Cable 10).